Friday, June 17, 2011

Glamour: On the Runway

Written by Melody Carlson, author of more than 200 books, Glamour is the fifth "On the Runway" book. The series follows two very different sisters with one big thing in common: their TV show about fashion. Paige is older, charismatic and thrives in the spotlight, while Erin is more reserved, conservative and striving to live out her Christian faith.

This title begins shortly after Paige becomes engaged to designer Dylan Marceau and just before the girls' mom gets married. Conflict arises when Paige invites Dylan to stay at their townhouse when their mom leaves for her honeymoon and ultimately moves in with her new husband. Erin is clearly not comfortable with the situation, but Paige refuses to relent.

Beyond trying to accept her sister's life choices, Erin also needs to tip-toe around her best friends. Molly is a Christian, but pregnant, unwed, and not exactly the best confidant. Blake, also a Christian, clearly wants to progress his relationship with Erin beyond "just friends," but Erin's not so sure. While her views on premarital sex are crisply defined, Erin unwittingly waltzes a gray area of relationship boundaries with Blake.

Things at work become more difficult, too. The show has more than its share of drama when a reality star releases her new swim line, then the sisters take the crew to a week-long fashion show in the Bahamas. In the midst of all this, Erin becomes privy to serious and secret health issues with their producer, Fran. Because Fran has no family or close friends around, Erin takes it upon herself to care for her, which becomes an increasing burden.

Erin struggles to find her place in this world of TV and fashion while seeking earnestly to live out what she believes to be true, in spite of the ridicule she receives. Her pursuit leads to new friends, stretching endeavors, and even a path toward eco-fashion, a line that may have a place, even for her. Now if she could just figure out the rest of her life ...

What I Like: This is a well-written easy read, perfect for lazy summer days. I appreciate the assertion that Christians can have a place, though be it small at times, even in the most "secular" of industries. I really liked the one character, Rhiannon -- a strong character worthy of imitation, and would have liked to see more of her. She was a bright beacon in an otherwise worldly collection of characters.

What I Dislike: This is definitely not a stand-alone book. I started reading without researching the title (I don't like spoilers) and was completely lost for the first 80 pages or so. Without the back story of the first couple books, I didn't know who these characters were, their relation to each other, how old they were, or why the publisher targeted a Christian teen audience. (The material seemed very mature for teens, perhaps better suited for college-aged readers.) While I quickly grow weary of repetition in book series, a quick recap would have been helpful for new-to-this-series readers.

I felt uncomfortable with the obvious isolation of the main character, both in her relationships and her beliefs. I would have liked her to have a little more support, but instead she was made to feel like a freak and a prude, even by her own mother. This does little to encourage readers to stand up for their faith, morals or integrity.

Finally, I just struggle with the main premise of this series. Girls naturally fight against the materialism of fashion while seeking healthy body and self image. I've seen the pressures already hit my seven-year-old daughter! I don't see how books like this alleviate that pressure. In fact, it seems to serve the contrary. This book features a character who has not yet fallen victim to those traps, yet throughout her journey, she gets sucked in more and more until she actually "enjoys" it. I'm not saying we can't enjoy fashion, but why change her? She was fine being herself without an obsession for expensive clothes and brand name styles.

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: Young Adult -- While the main characters are upper teens, I feel the content is better suited to college-aged readers rather than high school students.

Publisher Info: Zondervan, 2011; ISBN: 0310717906; Paperback; 224 pages; $9.99

Buy it Now at for $4.99!OR Buy it at for $9.99 for paperback or $8.99 for Kindle.

Special Info: Parents should note that, while none of these topics are the main point of the book, it does include premarital sex, teen pregnancy, and under-age drinking.

See our reviews of other books by this author, including another book in this series: Rendezvous.

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